Dreaming of bright, spring colors

This photo of Olivia Palermo for Tattler Russia makes me want to dress up, find a pretty spot and take glamour shots with my bicycle.  :)

olivia_bike

Maybe when the snow melts and the weather warms up.

The vibrant colors remind me of past Kate Spade-themed posts.

Adorable Trisha with her Kate Spade Abici.

1951698-R2-036-16A

Me with my Kate Spade Dress

dot_spade

Sadly, right now everything outside my window is grey and cold.  Is spring coming soon?!?

{Olivia Palermo image found here.}

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Snow, snow, snow

Lots of this…

DSCF6500

DSCF6498…means lots of this.

DSCF6509

DSCF6507Maybe the snow will stop by April, but I’m not getting my hopes up!

Tagged , , ,

Surviving this winter

How is one to survive this winter, one of the coldest, greyest and snowiest in history?

20130211-DSCF6437resized

As you can see, I chose to lighten my hair, buy a new red overcoat and bicycle on – except honestly I have not been bicycling a lot, certainly not everyday, as with previous winters.  All I ask for is a morning with temps at least 10 F and no falling snow, but such mornings are rare.  (As I type this, it’s 9 F and snowing.)  When I manage to ride my bike, I feel so much better, physically and mentally.

My plan for combatting winter also includes appreciating the (indoor) culture that Chicago offers: going to ballets, plays, symphonies and art exhibits.  If it were not for the Joffrey Ballet, the Goodman and Steppenwolf and Shakespeare Theatres, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Art Institute (and, of course, my wonderful friends!), I would question daily why I choose to live in this crowded, frozen tundra.

20130211-DSCF6434resized

This time last year, I was already enjoying the sights and sounds of spring with Betty Foy.

How are you dealing with this winter?  How much have you been bicycling?

{P.S. Our friend Elizabeth will be reporting on the National Bike Summit / Women’s Bike Forum here on LGRAB and our Twitter feed this week, so stay tuned!}

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Review: Bike USB Rechargeable Lights

Good morning! Daylight savings time might be right around the corner, but night-time visibility has always been a cyclist’s dilemma. One possible solution? Bike USB Rechargeable Lights, which I received for review from Uncommon Goods.

usblight

I have been impressed with these small, sturdy lights They come in sets of two: One front, in white, and one rear, in red. As shown in the photo above, they attach easily to your bike with an attached rubber band, not unlike other small bike lights such as Knog Lights. There is a groove in the top of the light so that the elastic band is held securely. These lights will not fall off your bike, but they’re easy to remove if you live in a city where bike light theft is a concern.

usblight2

 

The bonus with these little lights? No new batteries: just plug the lights into your computer with any mini-USB cable to recharge. (Fellow NOOK owners: your charging cable is now multiuse.) According to the website, you can get 5 hours of use before needing to recharge—I’ve used the lights for at least 20 minutes a day for about 20 days and have not needed to recharge them, so they may actually last slightly longer. Attaining a full charge takes about 2 hours.

A red light indicates that the light is still charging.

A red light indicates that the light is still charging.

Like most bike lights, these have a blinking mode as well as a steady mode. Just click the button on the top to toggle between modes and on/off.

nightlightrear And the front light is bright enough to help you see rather than just be seen.  It rivals my CatEye.

nightlightAt $49 for the pair, these are a bit pricier than Knog, but the convenience of not needing to replace batteries just might be priceless. (Also, shhh, Uncommon Goods often has sales or coupon codes available.) The final verdict: Worth checking out if you need a little extra illumination!

{ These lights were provided by Uncommon Goods for review, but the opinions expressed are my own. }

 

Tagged , , ,

Not afraid of a little snow…

EleanorNYC has a lovely little post today showing “women who look stylish on their bike and not afraid of a little snow.”  This reminded me that to not be afraid of a little snow, I need studded tires.  If there is snow on the ground that has not yet been totally plowed off the salted streets, I’ll only ride my bike with studded tires.

 

These are the bad boys on which I rely: Schwalbe Marathon Winters.  I bought them five or six winters ago and they’re still going strong.

Because I don’t have the time, patience or interest to swap out the tires myself (a longer-than-usual process for my Dutch bike), I brought Oma to a local bike shop a few weeks ago for her yearly tire swap.

When it was time to pick Oma up the next day, I Divvied to the shop.  (Thanks again, Divvy!)

20121225-DSCF5480resizedMy girl was waiting for me, still wearing her medical bracelet.

 

Oma was also wearing a note from my friend Dan, who saw her when he happened by the shop later to have his bike serviced.  An inside joke involving karaoke and Justin Timberlake – fun!  :-)

20121225-DSCF5489resizedNow Oma and I are ready to take on winter together and not be afraid of snow.

20121225-DSCF5501resized 20121225-DSCF5502resizedA lot of Chicago bicyclists get by fine without studded tires – and in fact I never put mine on two winters ago due to the relatively mild weather – but I like having them as an option.  What do you do to take on winter bicycling?

See also,

My Schwalbe Marathon Winter review from 2009

In defense of studded tires

My studded tires getting me through a post-blizzard ride

The return of my winter wheels in 2010

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Winter Bicycling Day in Denver

Hello!  I am just back from a quick trip to Denver this weekend to visit Melissa.  Yesterday she and I grabbed bikes out of the garage (I rode her husband Chanh’s Huffy and she rode her Raleigh “Black Beauty”) for a relaxing ride around the neighborhood.

20130102-DSCF5724resized

20130102-DSCF5717resized

20130102-DSCF5728resized

20130102-DSCF5712resized

So, yeah, in Denver a ride around “the neighborhood” can be pretty darn amazing.

This beautiful scenery is in the city.  After leaving Melissa’s house and crossing a calm and well-marked street or two…

20130102-DSCF5729resized

…Melissa led me down a lovely trail through a huge park.

20130102-DSCF5714resized

20130102-DSCF5710resized

20130102-DSCF5726resized
As you can see, winter bicycling in Denver is not like winter bicycling in Chicago.  The bright sun and extremely clear sky were super bright, especially coming as I was from the dark and grey world of Chicago.  Good thing I had my big sunglasses.

20130102-DSCF5733resized

20130102-DSCF5725resized

A couple of details: the cool bell on my bike and Melissa’s cute biking shoes.

20130102-DSCF5721resized

20130102-DSCF5723resized

The park area where we were biking actually used to be an air force base, which this huge plane commemorates.

20130102-DSCF5736resized

Some areas built up in place of the old base look a bit too suburban pre-fab for my taste, but overall it is a beautiful environment.

20130102-DSCF5732resized

We took a break from our ride to enjoy a refreshment at a beer garden.  I love the beer culture in Denver!

20130102-DSCF5741resized

20130102-DSCF5742resized

Finally, we got a quick picture together before heading home.

20130102-DSCF5744resized

The day before our bike adventure, we explored the town of Golden, Colorado on foot.

20130101-DSCF5565resized

Where I guess they appreciate bicyclists!

20130101-DSCF5566resized

This town is where Coors is brewed, but we chose to visit a couple of smaller breweries instead.  First, Golden City.  Their sign cracks me up.

20130101-DSCF5555resized

20130101-DSCF5539resized

Then an ice cream intermission for this little guy (his first!).

20130101-DSCF5569resized

(He’s like – “Why are you poking me in the head, Auntie Dottie?”  Because I can, baby!)

20130101-DSCF5577resized

And then a walk in the fresh air to the second brewery, Mountain Toad.

20130101-DSCF5594resized

20130101-DSCF5604resized

20130101-DSCF5609resized

Good times!  We make a good bike-riding, beer-drinking, baby-playing team.  :)

20130102-DSCF5759resized

As I write this, I am back in Chicago: snowy, freezing, and Melissa-less.  So sad!  I’m sure I’ll be back in beautiful Denver again in the next year.

For previous Colorado adventures, see Brewery Bike Tour in Fort Collins and B-Cycling in Denver.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

We’re back!

OK, it has been WAY too long since we’ve been able to blog. We’ve missed you! Won’t bore you with too many tech details, but we have a new hosting company and a brand-spanking fresh installation of WordPress, so here’s hoping that we’ll be good to go without any major outages for another five years. And yes, I said five: Our first real posts at LGRAB were in January 2009.

Since we were gone for so long, I feel it is only right to give  you a little sneak peek at what will be appearing on LGRAB soon!

  • Review of Bookman bike lights
  • Our story of biking the Lustica Peninsula with Feel Montenegro
  • A Trisha & Dottie Midwest adventure, coming in March
  • Coverage of the Tennessee Bike Summit in May

And if you’re in Nashville, join us this Sunday for a bike brunch!

Guess that’s all for now! It feels good to be blogging again.

 

 

Fashion Over Function

Perhaps a flowing white skirt was not the smartest outfit choice for a wet and windy day, but sometimes fashion trumps function, and this morning I wanted to wear a flowing white skirt, dammit.

DSCF4189resized

I began second-guessing my choice as the lake winds whipped the skirt against Betty’s grimy rack and fender, but by that time there was no turning back.

DSCF4194resized

DSCF4193resized

In a nod to function, here is my head and eye protective gear that rarely makes it into photos.

DSCF4197resized

By the end of the day, the hem of my skirt was lightly soiled here and there, but nothing terribly noticeable from a distance.  The real danger was the chocolate cake I enjoyed with lunch, crumbs of which inevitably got smushed on my lap.

DSCF4186resized

Regardless, riding my bike, eating chocolate cake and wearing a flowing white skirt all made me happy, so I consider the dry cleaning bill worth it.  :-)

Score one for fashion.

{I picked this skirt up from a Paris thrift store for 2 euros.  See it styled for summer here.}

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wool and Leather in the Rain

This evening I had a dark ride home in light rain.  I was caught without my raincoat or any other special rain accessories, but my normal outfit worked well.

My wool trench coat kept me warm and dry.

DSCF4161resized

My leather boots served the same purpose for my feet, plus sported a reflective strap for extra visibility.

DSCF4175resized

My beloved bag was unfazed by the wet weather, thanks to dark leather and pre-treatment with Cadillac Shield Spray.

DSCF4166resized

My Brooks saddle was protected by me for the ride, but got a bit wet while I took pictures.  I know some people baby their leather saddles, but mine is holding up well, so I’m not too worried.

DSCF4171resized For the most part, light rain does not bother me much.  And soon rain will be replaced by snow!

P.S. Really hard for me to avoid a November Rain reference in this post.  :)

Tagged , , , , , ,

Focus

Hello there!

dscf4046resized

My focus lately has not been on blogging, but I have some renewed energy now.  In three wteeks, I start a new job (an exciting step up in my career!) that will bring me a longer and more scenic bike commute.  And to reward myself I bought a beautiful digital camera that has me eager to document my rides.

This morning I enjoyed my regular bike ride to work in the sunshine and crisp air.

DSCF4036resized

DSCF4045resized

Betty has been my constant companion for the last month, although I expect to swap her out for Oma as soon as the snow starts.

DSCF4040resized
And here’s what I wore on my bike, although this was in the middle of the day and Betty, unfortunately, was not around to pose with me.  A cashmere sweater and scarf with a leather jacket kept me plenty warm in the low-30 temps.

DSCF4077resized

That’s about all I have to share for now.  :-)

I hope everyone is doing well!

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Nashville Tweed Ride draws a dapper crowd

We had such a great turnout for the Tweed Ride last month! Despite the very British chill in the air, a lively group of dapper ladies and gents met at Sevier Park. Three pubs and five hours later, we all biked home. Here are some pictures from the day.

tweedride

(photo by Austin of Green Fleet)

atyazoo

The group at Yazoo (+photobomber!)

bikesatYazoo

So many bikes outside of Yazoo

Two Gitanes outside Yazoo!

Two Gitanes!

Emily and Derek (from Memphis!) and Emily's mom Charlene

Emily and Derek (from Memphis!) and Emily’s mom Charlene

Amanda sets the pace on Patty.

Amanda sets the pace on Patty.

bikes at marathon

Car factory taken over by bikes.

Paula and Sten outside Marathon

Paula and Sten outside Marathon

Jessica at Corsair Taproom (photo by Sten)

Jessica at Corsair Taproom (photo by Sten)

Anna, Dan and Paula, so ladylike in white gloves! (Photo by Sten)

Anna, Dan and Paula, so ladylike in white gloves! (Photo by Sten)

sonny

Sonny explains it all (photo by Sten)

John and his cigar: the ultimate tweed ride accessory! (Photo by Sten)

Jack and his cigar: the ultimate tweed ride accessory! (Photo by Sten)

I should mention that I cross-posted this event on the Slow Ride Nashville meetup page. If you’re looking for more ways to get out and about on a bike in Nashville, check it out!

Tagged , , , , ,

Bicycling as exercise…or not?

I have been cycling almost daily for so long – over five years now! – that I do not think much about the physical aspect.  When I first started bike commuting, I could feel it in my legs for several months.  By now the act is so routine, I sometimes forget that bicycling is exercise.

20131011-R1-01784-002A

Oma and I setting off to work last week

I was reminded of this fact when I returned to bike commuting after almost a month’s break, due to my travels and other factors.  After two days back in Chicago riding Oma in the wind, my legs muscles were sore.  Really, riding a bike as heavy as Oma is more like weight training than cardio.  :-)

Years ago, I read a Dutch woman comment that because she’s been cycling her whole life, her leg muscles are too used to the motions and she has to do separate exercises to keep her legs toned.  I refuse to believe that – I hate squats!

I wonder how others experience the physical aspects of bicycling and how that has changed (or not) over time.  Anyone care to share?

Tagged , , , , ,

Divvy Update

Divvy is a real part of Chicago culture now.

20131011-R1-01784-012A

The majority of Chicago’s Divvy bike share stations are now installed.  The map below shows the active stations in blue and the planned stations in yellow.

Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 7.31.16 AM

This means that there is a Divvy station a couple of blocks from anywhere I want to go.  I’ve been taking advantage of this at least once or twice a week.  The routine is simple: walk up to a Divvy bike, check the tires (only once have I found a flat tire), throw my bag in the front rack, adjust the seat to my height and release the bike with my key fob.

20131011-R1-01784-011A
20131011-R1-01784-013A

Then I’m off, happily biking to my destination!

 

Fall is Here!

Time to break out the tweed and cashmere – fall is here!

20131011-R1-01784-004A

I have a habit of writing every year about how much I love fall, and this year will be more of the same.  It’s such a perfect time for bike riding, especially for riding in full work clothes without arriving sweaty.

20131011-R1-01784-010A

I enthusiastically pulled out from under my bed the two containers of cold-weather clothes and suddenly I have a whole new wardrobe.  This week I will replenish my supply of black and brown tights, then I’ll be good to go through early spring.  :-)

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Join us in Nashville for a Tweed Ride

It’s been way too long since our last Nashville Tweed Ride. Time for a rematch! Will I wear the exact same outfit as I did three years ago? Will we have equally unseasonable warm weather? Will the 15 people who RSVP’d “yes” on the Nashville Slow Ride page actually show up? I can hardly wait to find out.

Tweed Ride invite

Please join us! Route details can be found on the meetup page above or on the Facebook event page.

Tagged , , ,

Happy birthday, Dottie

The world got much more awesome on the day Dot was born. And so did my life when we met some 25 years later!

dottietrain

Cheers to a friend who is kind but assertive; smart and thoughtful, but never afraid to be goofy; and a true artistic talent who lets us see the world through her eyes in her photos.

20130715-R1-01600-021A-2

Speaking of her ability to master new things—did I mention that her latest enthusiasm is learning Serbian? A skill that was much appreciated by the Balkan community at large as well as her travel companion. :)

dottieb&w

So, Живели, Dottie! Can’t wait to raise a glass with you in person in a couple of weeks.

Early Sunset

The sun is setting earlier and earlier now – a clear sign of the shift in seasons.  While I am not crazy about bicycling in the dark, I appreciate changes that mark the passing of time and keep life from feeling too routine. And I can now watch the transition from day to night during my evening commute.

20130803-R1-08060-006A

20130803-R1-08060-009A

20130803-R1-08060-011A

20130803-R1-08060-012A

20130803-R1-08060-013A

20130803-R1-08060-014A

20130803-R1-08060-016A

20130803-R1-08060-000A

I hope all of you are enjoying October so far.  Just remember to carry your bike lights with you at all times!  :-)

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

The Return!

Hello!  We are back!  Pardon the silence, but sometimes a woman has to travel.  :-)

photoresized

Trisha posted a teaser about our destination a couple of weeks ago and reader Jennifer correctly guessed our location: Dubrovnik, Croatia!  But wait, there’s more.  A full reveal of all our destinations is below.

Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina:

photo_6resized

Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina:

photo_5resized

Dubrovnik, Croatia:

photo_4resized

Lake Skadar, Montenegro (our home base was Herceg Novi):

photo_2resized

Lustica Peninsula, Montenegro:

photo_1resized

Belgrade, Serbia:

photo_7resized

We will post much more later, including details about an amazing bike excursion we went on one day.

Now back to regularly scheduled bike blog programming.  :-)

Tagged ,

If you are wondering

Why the blog has been a bit quiet–we’ve been on vacation! Look for a full report soon–in the meantime, any guesses where we’ve been? ;)

20130917-131347.jpg

20130917-131245.jpg

20130917-131306.jpg

20130917-131400.jpg

Review: Carrera Unisex Foldable Helmet

Let me start out this post with an “I’m Switzerland in the helmet wars” disclaimer. Though I wore a helmet daily for the first year or two after I started cycling, over time, on my most familiar routes, I more or less abandoned it. Why? For many of the reasons Dave mentions in this post as well as the fact that in summer, in Tennessee, heatstroke is a much greater threat than head injury.

Carrerahelmetfront

front of the helmet

That said, there are times when I do want to wear a helmet, or am required to wear one—and I’m always looking for one that is cool, comfortable and relatively attractive. So when I saw the Carrera Foldable Helmet online, I had high hopes that it was the helmet holy grail.

IMG_1278

First things first: the “foldable” aspect of this helmet is pretty minimal. Common sense suggests that folding a helmet is not a logical expectation…and that common sense would be right. There’s really only a couple of inches difference between the helmet’s folded and expanded size—the figure they use is 20% smaller and that seems accurate to me.

Carrera helmet: folded

folded helmet

carrerahelmetexp

When folded, you can secure the helmet with a provided strap, which has a carabiner attached so that you can clip it to your bag or purse or the frame of your bike when not in use.

Carrerahelmet

Carrera helmet folded, with carabiner and strap for attachment to a bag, lock or purse

The strap has a reflective tag and can do double-duty by holding your pants leg away from your chain if you’re into that sort of thing.

IMG_1274

I got this helmet in glossy white, to match Le Peug, but they’re available in lots of pretty colors. The size small/medium fit my puny head perfectly straight out of the box, but there’s an elastic at the back that can tweak the fit as well.

carrera-foldable-card-2

 

The interior has removable, washable pads that are very comfortable. I hardly knew I was wearing it during my metric century.

 

IMG_1281

Best of all, the multiple air vents totally deliver—this is definitely the coolest, lightest helmet I’ve ever worn. (My other is a Bern Berkeley and I have spent a lot of time wearing Dottie’s Nutcases when in Chicago. I had a cheap-o Bell helmet from Target when I first started riding.)
cornfields

On the shallow side, I also really, really love the sleek fit and look of this helmet. Someone told me it looked like a hat—while I think that’s a little bit of a stretch, it’s definitely the most hat-like helmet I’ve ever worn. I didn’t have that mushroom head feeling at all while wearing it.

To get a little more serious, the helmet complies with EU safety standards (Carrera is an Italian company best known for sunglasses) so the actual protection factor is up to snuff.

meandandynatchez

The only real drawback to this helmet is the price: I paid $80 on eBay, which is $20 more than the Nutcase (it’s the same as the MSRP for my Bern, but you can almost always find a Bern sale somewhere). There’s also a “premium” version, which includes a light and a “multiuse scarf” and retails at about $130—if you can find it anywhere online.

Despite the somewhat high price, if you wear a helmet frequently and care about 1.) looks and 2.) lack of head sweat, the Carrera Foldable Helmet is definitely worth your consideration. It was definitely the Helmet Holy Grail for me.

Do you love your helmet? Tell us about it in the comments.

 

 

Tagged , , , , , , ,